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District Prepares For School Year With New Faculty

Candace Braun

A total of 54 new staff members have been hired and will assume their posts in the district with the start of school on September 8, according to the Princeton Regional Board of Education.

"The Board has taken a hiatus this summer, but everyone at the administrative offices has been very busy," said Board President Anne Burns at the Board's August 23 meeting.

Following the passage of the $1.9 million second ballot question in April's school elections, the district has spent this summer hiring new staff and implementing new programs that were funded through the question, including an in-house program for autistic students, as well as a preschool program for 4-year-olds, which was funded by the state during its first year. A total of 13 minorities were among the staff members hired, according to Assistant Superintendent Jeff Graber.

"We've been busy recruiting the very best," said Superintendent Judy Wilson, noting that the district has revamped its mentoring program this summer, which now will follow new staff and faculty through the first three years of their employment.

Orientation, developmental activities, and workshops that teach effective classroom skills are all part of the program, along with assigning each new person to the supervision of a staff member in the district.

Part of the program's mission is to show the new staff the district is here for them, and wants them to be successful in the classroom, said Lew Goldstein, assistant superintendent for human resources, public information, and community relations.

"This is a beefed-up program," said Ms. Burns in a separate interview on Tuesday, adding that the district spent many hours this summer examining and making changes to the existing program. "I'm excited with the work they did here."

She noted that not all of the positions that have been created this year have been filled, some of which included a behavioral specialist for the elementary level, a speech and language teacher, and a social studies teacher at the high school.

"We agreed that if the right person didn't show up by the start of the school year, we weren't going to just hire someone. We wanted to be very selective with the new positions," she said, noting that some of the positions may still be filled within the next few weeks.

Among the staff hired is a dean of students for PHS, who was chosen from within the district at a salary of $70,000. Angela Siso will serve as the school's dean, or coordinator of student activities, and will continue in her position as a special education teacher there. The majority (80 percent) of her time will be devoted to her new position.

Two full-time building monitors were also hired for the middle school and high school, Cynthia Raymond and Thomas DiLeo, at a salary of $30,000 each.

Ms. Raymond, who was previously a certified screener for the Federal Transportation Security Administration at Mercer Airport, will serve as a monitor at John Witherspoon. Mr. DiLeo, a former science teacher in the Trenton Public School District, who is also certified in physical education, health, and driver's education, will serve as a monitor at the high school.

On selecting the building monitors, Ms. Burns said that the district was looking for people who could build relationships with the students, while at the same time keeping an eye on student activity on the school grounds.

Among the other faculty hired through the second question are four early intervention teachers for the elementary schools, two teachers for the district's new preschool program, four guidance counselors for the elementary level, and an instrumental music teacher for the middle school.

Construction Update

In other news, construction is finally coming to a close at the four elementary schools and the middle school. The district is now working to "bring schools back up to par on the outside," said Facilities Chairman Michael Mostoller.

Prior to last Tuesday night's meeting, the Board took a walking tour of the construction and renovation work being done at Princeton High School.

While the new auditorium is not completely enclosed yet, "you can begin to see what it will look like Š and how wonderful it's going to be," said Mr. Mostoller.

He described the school's new gymnasium as a "beautiful, big room, big enough to play tennis in," estimating the size at 170 by 127 feet.

"I think when we see these facilities [completed] we'll be proud of not only what they are Š but the creativity behind them," he added.

All work at the high school is still set for completion by January 2006.

Upcoming long-term goals for the Board's Facilities Committee involve examining the Valley Road Building's facilities.

"We actually have some spaces that aren't being used at all," noted Mr. Mostoller, adding that the district has hired a consultant to update the district's five-year facilities plan.

The plan will detail a maintenance upkeep program for the district's buildings while dividing projects into what is annually attainable.

"We do have a very valuable and well-located space on Valley Road," said Board member Alan Hegedus, noting that the facility could generate money for the district if rooms are rented out and the building is used to its full potential.

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